Exiting the front door of my house, my feet clomped on the wood stoop as I headed to the corner where Mr. Wilson's house once stood to catch the school bus. I drew up short when I found Johnny in the front yard standing at the base of the large oak tree, staring up into its boughs. His jaw hung open as if he had been struck dumb. Johnny was not necessarily the sharpest tool in the shed, but he usually had some sort of excuse for his unusual behavior.
"Johnny, what are you doing?" I asked, snickering through my words.
Without saying a word, Johnny pointed. My eyes followed his finger toward the sky and my jaw fell as loose as his. There in the utmost branches of the tree, nearly twenty feet over our heads, hung my bike. We stood looking at it, quietly considering how it had made it there from the sidewalk where I left it the night before, until the bright yellow flash of the school bus passed at the corner of our vision and we ran all the way to the corner to catch it.
Arriving at the cafeteria table for lunch, Johnny had already informed the rest of the neighborhood boys about finding my bike. Eric suggested that maybe aliens had taken it with their tractor beam to inspect it and misjudged returning it. Several of the boys laughed, but a few shared concerned glances.
Another suggested asking One Eyed Lily, as she was always taking pictures and had probably already reported it to the government. Several thought this was a good idea, but no one was willing to go to her house and ask. We decided we would just have to figure this out on our own.
After school, with the help of my dad's ladder, the one he used each year to clean the gutters and to adjust the antenna after a storm to clear the static from the picture on the television, we retrieved my bike from the tree. Johnny and Eric asked their parents and made plans to stay over that night to watch and see who or what had placed my bike in the tree.
We took turns watching from the window of my room, while those not on duty read back issues of X-men comic books and munched on snacks we smuggled up to the room from the kitchen. One by one, we silently drifted off to sleep with promises of waking each other up when it was our turn to watch.
Squeaking noises from outside the window woke me with a start, my heart threatening to jump from my chest. Looking around the shadows of the room, I found Johnny and Eric curled on the floor asleep. Slinking quietly to the window, I cautiously peered over the window ledge, afraid of what I might find.
A shadowy figure was hunched over my bike, wheeling it toward the tree. It was tall, with long arms and accompanied by an animal of some sort. As quick as I could, without waking my parents, I slipped down the stairs and went to the front door, figuring if I cut the porch lights on it might scare the being and give me a better look at it through the windows by the door.
Thumbing the switch, the lawn was instantly bathed in light and the creature turned his head slowly to look right at me through the window, sending my body into an instant sweat. The animal that was with it began barking, loud enough to wake the entire neighborhood. Opening the door, I stepped outside.
My great uncle Mack stood holding my bike, while his dog, also named Mack ran up to lick my fingers. They lived at the far corner of the neighborhood and Mack often walked Mack early in the morning, "before all the commotion" he would often say. During the day, he tinkered with a large radio he used to speak to people around the world.
"Uncle Mack, what are you doing? Are you the one that put my bike in the tree?" I asked.
Laying the bike down and uncurling his large frame until he towered over me, he looked over his bulbous nose, and spoke, "You should not leave your bike out. A car might hit it."
He called Mack, the dog, to his side taking his leash and walked off into the darkness. I watched him disappear, then wheeled my bike to the side of the house and crept back into the quiet house. Johnny and Eric had never moved and as I lay back in my bed, I wondered how an eighty year old man had lugged my bike so high into the tree.
It has been about six months since I have written one of my Suburban Adventures. Thought it might be a good time to take a trip back. For more of the quirky adventures in my childhood neighborhood, see previous chapters here, here, here, here and here.